Counting the Cost of Racial Reconciliation

Gaye Clark | November 19, 2015

“You don’t act like the rest of them do.”

A former friend’s words embarrassed and astounded me. She was speaking to Marcia Mitchell, an African American woman who left an abusive relationship and had moved in with my family.

I bit my lip and squeezed my eyelids shut.

Marcia huffed, shook her head, and walked back to the car. I followed her example, leaving my friend standing in the parking lot.

In my friend’s mind, she’d given Marcia a compliment. But before I lay too much condemnation at her feet, I have to confess I’ve made comments just as thoughtless and stupid. Instead of proving me innocent of racism, her words revealed a heart that still needed changing.

Getting Personal 

Marcia lived with us for more than a year. Before then, I believed most African Americans who decried racism in America were being overly sensitive. America gave everyone an equal footing. That was before I witnessed exchanges like the one in the parking lot, which occurred nearly every day. Racism is better understood when experienced than when explained. Getting to know and care for Marcia made those comments personal to me. I began to feel firsthand the realities of living in her world.

Marcia had earned…

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